The exhibit, “I CANcer: a photo journey,” grew out of a new support group at UNC Hospitals for teens who have survived cancer or rare blood disorders. It was started by recreational therapist/child life specialist Jessica Irven and Dr. Justin Yopp, a psychologist at the N.C. Cancer Hospital.
The idea for the exhibit came from Irven’s co-worker Stephanie Mazze, who had heard about a New York City hospital that gave teens cameras to document their experiences with major illness.
In the support group meetings, the teens ate pizza, downloaded photos onto a big screen and talked about what each picture represented. Irven helped facilitate along with Yopp, and Heather Rompel, a pediatric oncology nurse who planned to stay for one session and stayed for the entire nine months since. Mazze’s husband Aaron donated cameras and memory cards.
“One of the main comments we hear from teens going through this experience of cancer is that their peers just cannot relate, understandably,” Irven said. “In this group they have had a chance to find out their experiences had some commonalities and that, while their particular journey was unique, the path they went down was similar to others. That is so important, for teens to know they are normal.”
With her lymphoma now in remission, Toomey is joining five other teenaged cancer survivors in putting on a photography exhibit at University Mall. It opens this Wednesday, May 18, with a free meet-the-artists’ reception from 6 to 8 p.m. and runs through next Sunday.
To find out more, visit: http://www.chapelhillnews.com/2011/05/15/64354/when-kids-get-cancer.html?story_link=email_msg